[I]n the closing days of His ministry, Jesus wept over Jerusalem saying,
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:37-39).
In Matthew 24:2, Jesus continued to talk about Jerusalem, the city where God chose to place His name – “And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
A few years later in 70 AD, just as Jesus had prophesied, the Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem and burnt the Second Temple to the ground. Thus began the 2,000-year exile of the Jewish people from their Promised Land and their Holy City.
God Turns to the Gentiles
The Apostle James spoke to the leaders of the early church as they were attempting to understand how God would turn to the Gentiles. In Acts 15:14 he said, “Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.”
Because Israel was too proud of her role as God’s chosen people, she was unable to receive a meek and lowly Messiah. In His wisdom, God turned to the lowly Gentiles who were humble enough to receive a salvation that they did not deserve. God was looking for a people He could have mercy upon—not one who felt it deserved His divine favor. Thus the “times of the Gentiles” began.
The Apostle Paul attempted to explain this truth to the Gentiles in Romans 11:25 27:
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
Paul also warned the Romans against being lifted up in pride because they had been favored by God with salvation. He explained the mystery that the blindness of Israel would not last forever. He told them that this condition would only last until “the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” Then he explained that all of Israel, that existed when the fullness of the Gentiles was completed, would be saved. He went on in the chapter to explain that God first concluded the Gentiles in unbelief so that He might have mercy on the Gentiles. He then explained that the Jews are now consigned to unbelief, so that He might have mercy on the Jews. He summarizes his discourse in Romans 11:32 – For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
Times of the Gentiles Fulfilled
When Jesus spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem, he placed a time on its desolation. In Luke 21:24, He said, “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
From 70 AD until today, Jerusalem has continued to be under Gentile control. When Jerusalem was captured by Israel in the 1967 War, many Bible students thought the times of the Gentiles were over. However, Israel’s secular government returned control of the Temple Mount to the Muslims. Revelation 11:1-2 explains when the times of the Gentiles will come to an end:
And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
Remember, Jerusalem will be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. This passage tells us that the Gentiles will tread the holy city under foot for forty-two Jerusalem months. Forty-two months here refers to the three and one half year period known as the great tribulation, which immediately precedes the battle of Armageddon. In Revelation 13:5, we are told that power was given to the beast (the Antichrist) to continue forty two months. This is the same forty two months that will conclude the times of the Gentiles.
When Jesus comes back to earth, destroys the Antichrist, and establishes His kingdom, the times of the Gentiles will be completed, and all of Israel that has survived the great tribulation will turn to Jesus when He descends onto the Mount of Olives. Jerusalem is the most disputed piece of real estate on earth today. The nation of Israel is now reborn after almost 2,000 years of exile. A peace treaty that will settle the control of the Temple Mount is being crafted by representatives of the world community. All of these factors speak loud and clear to us. The times of the Gentiles are almost over and the second coming of our Lord and Savior is very near! Come quickly Lord Jesus!